[LRUG] Beginner advice

Brandon Burton brandon.anthony.burton at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 02:04:48 PDT 2018

Hi Sam,

I was in your position about 2.5 years ago. I had no real coding experience
other than a few encounters with html/css exercises and I didn't have any
relevant education.

What helped me was what Graham and Ali suggested, practicing. That was
either by reading books like The Well Grounded Rubyist or utilizing online
tutorials. I found structured online tutorials worked best for me so I paid
for a subscription to TeamTreehouse after looking at a few online MOOC's. I
told myself that if I enjoyed it and found myself continuing to do it then
I would start planning to change my career path.

About a month or two in I decided to find a meetup and came across NWRUG
(the Manchester sister group to LRUG). I certainly felt apprehensive about
showing up, having little to no experience, but the reality was far
different. I was able to pair on coding challenges with knowledgable
developers, ask questions about topics in some of the talks where I didn't
initially grasp the concept, I received helpful advice on continuing my
journey to become a developer, and I was even lucky enough to have one of
the developers kindly spare their evenings to mentor me.

When I first decided that I was going to try and switch careers to become a
developer I set out a goal; at the end of 1 year, I would have my first
job. Having this goal in the back of my mind helped me push through days
where I didn't feel like coding very much. Even on my laziest days I made
sure to code or read over blog posts for at least 30 mins.

About 6 months after starting my journey I was encouraged to give a talk on
my experiences of trying to become a developer at our local meetup. It was
from that talk that I was introduced to my future (and current) employer. A
few weeks after that talk I was arriving at work for my first day as a full
stack dev.

It's definitely possible, whether it happens in 6 or 24 months. If you have
the ability to join a bootcamp like Makers then I can recommend that,
you'll have a stronger understanding of the basics and better opportunities
for finding your first job -- two juniors I work with came from Makers and
both came in quite strong (and still are). If you can't afford a bootcamp
then there are still plenty of online resources to help you get where you
want to be.

I'm still using online tutorials, reading blog posts, or reading books now
to help me learn new and difficult concepts. It's an important trait to
have when looking to become a developer. Employers really like to see that
you learn in your spare time, it means they can rely on you to continue to
become a better developer.

I would definitely recommend you attend LRUG and chat with a few people
there about your goals and get some advice from them.

Best of luck,

On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 12:40 AM, Najaf Ali <ali at happybearsoftware.com>

> Hi Sam,
> *> I'm currently going through other basic tutorials(html, css etc) and
> was wondering what the next step would be after being comfortable with the
> basics.*
> I would strongly second what Graham said about getting as much practice as
> you can. If you don't have a specific project that you're focused on right
> now, there are plenty of exercises available online for you to work
> through. exercism.io gets a lot of good reviews, some other examples
> include project euler
> <https://links2.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/AHeGerJSe1ejiQ5oU?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>,
> SQLBolt
> <https://links6.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/EA2X1Mg361mIib8gH?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> , rosalind
> <https://links5.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/3uZPfphPKpLAite8l?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>,
> and cryptopals
> <https://links8.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/tSwHjQp56F6R8P5NA?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>.
> (If you manage to complete up to challenge 6 in cryptopals, or even attempt
> 6 and get stuck part way through, then it would probably be worth us
> discussing the potential for an apprenticeship as plenty of senior
> developers can't do that exercise).
> I particularly like this post about learning
> <https://links7.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/pUQ1EAGyzrojkODgp?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> (and more specifically learning to program) about fluency vs. understanding
> and structure vs. imagination.
> However, in addition to building fluency, we also encourage apprentices to
> read books. For learning Ruby our standard text is The Well Grounded
> Rubyist
> <https://links10.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/dJXYviaJX4QfuOIHq?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> by David A. Black. Other books on our apprentice reading list include High
> Performance Browser Networking
> <https://links8.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/6Eiu9QlZGg35El8Su?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> by Ilya Grigorik (available online for free) and Designing Data Intensive
> Applications
> <https://links6.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/9KFV67uLpuJDyATcr?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> by Martin Kleppmann. The former is ostensibly about performance and ends up
> being a sales pitch for HTTP2, but on the way there the author has to
> explain how the internet works. The latter is a book packed with a lot of
> knowledge and clear thinking about how to make good decisions with
> databases that I wish I'd had earlier in my career.
> *> It would also be nice to know what possible paths there are for
> becoming a fully fledged developer.*
> Having advised (and subsequently hired a few) graduates from code schools,
> career changers, and coding meetup attendees, without knowing more about
> your circumstances I would wager that from a standing start this is a
> project that will take you between 6 and 24 months, depending on your life
> circumstances, your prior experience, and connections.
> Here are some things you can do to help make your first job as a developer
> happen:
>    - *Start talking to people in the industry*. Go to the LRUG
>    <https://links10.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/6T4XqSs7Ut8I7Z3YZ?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false> meetups.
>    One of the most common concerns about attending that new programmers raise
>    with me is that the talks will be "at too high a level". They're not at too
>    high a level for you (sorry everyone!) and even if they are, isn't that the
>    point of you going? Try to stay for drinks afterwards if you feel
>    comfortable doing so and maybe introduce yourself to some people that have
>    also been to LRUG that evening. Maybe think about attending Brighton
>    Ruby
>    <https://links7.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/3JyKp8CSOjQKj4lQn?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
>    too, Andy knows how to put on a good show. In addition to this, if you
>    happen to be from a background that is underrepresented in tech then I
>    super double plus turbo recommend you attend codebar
>    <https://links1.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/ZlIh01s1kqTP4B4WQ?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>.
>    It is the gold standard introduction to the industry. You will be in an
>    office where developers work, with other people learning to code, and a
>    handful of developers teaching you how to code, for free. If that doesn't
>    make the prospect of becoming a developer more real for you, I don't know
>    what will.
>    - *If you can afford to do so, attend Makers Academy
>    <https://links4.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/TUOwHD5lOlnXQ8jXl?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>*.
>    I have no affiliation with Makers other than I know a lot of the students
>    and occasionally have lunch with Evgeny who is one of the founders. After
>    years of watching Makers launch cohort after cohort into the industry, I
>    don't have any hesitation in recommending them to you (though I suspect out
>    of all of these recommendations, this one will be the most controversial on
>    this list). They will definitely make it more likely that you get a job as
>    a developer more quickly than you would be able to do so on your own. They
>    also at this stage have an extensive alumni network, and a lot of good
>    connections with companies that are actively trying to hire people that are
>    new to the industry. This is a really good set of advantages to have at the
>    start of your developer career.
>    - *Start the campaign for your first developer job early. *Let's say
>    you have to make 100 applications for a developer job, 30 of which get a
>    reply, 9 of which lead to an interview which result in one or two offers
>    for a job. You still need to make those hundred applications to get those
>    one or two offers. As you improve your skills, make more connections, and
>    get more experience interviewing, your likelihood of getting an offer will
>    increase. So the earlier you start writing CVs/cover letters, making lists
>    of companies you'd like to work at, and reaching out to people hiring
>    junior/apprentice roles, the better.
> You'll get a lot of other good replies on this list and this is just one
> set of opinions to weigh against all the others, but I hope there are one
> or two things there you find useful. If there's anything I've said here
> that you would like to discuss further then feel free to get in touch on or
> off list.
> Best of luck!
> Najaf Ali - Founder at Happy Bear Software
> <https://links4.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/6Ruohd7dHMfHeT1a4?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> Phone: 07590 073 977
> Skype: alinajaf85
> Timezone: London, UTC + 1
> <https://links7.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/g75wimnKBoVFEkEYG?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> LinkedIn
> <https://links10.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/2bRAkTZhK9SbKJvE9?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
>  | Twitter
> <https://links8.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/CQJxZdkCqrufc1yud?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
>  | Medium
> <https://links7.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/Bd5gegp8mSMQn5WVT?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
>  | GitHub
> <https://links7.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/szeRW7CJlUBsueml6?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false>
> I run a technical consultancy specialising in Ruby on Rails. Have a look
> at this one-page info sheet
> <https://links4.mixmaxusercontent.com/rSxCBSBNkaSyYEvDv/l/BZtwTzqL1Oa0x1zOv?messageId=yAaWHPoia63A4r4b7&rn=gIwV3bydEIzJXZzVFI5JWdSBibvRmbvxkI&re=icmcv5yZ1JHbuMHdzlGbARXYoNmI&sc=false> for
> a summary of the services we provide. We're always happy to meet people
> building software, so if you think of anyone appropriate for us we would
> appreciate being put in touch :-)
> On Tue, Apr 10, 2018 7:48 PM, samuel brown samuelbrown201195 at hotmail.co.uk
> wrote:
>> Hi all
>> I have started getting into programming(initial through basic ruby
>> tutorials and onto hartl's rails tutorial). I'm currently going through
>> other basic tutorials(html, css etc)  and was wondering what the next step
>> would be after being comfortable with the basics.
>> It would also be nice to know what possible paths there are for becoming
>> a fully fledged developer.
>> Any comments would be much appreciated
>> Regards
>> Sam
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